The Indian women eating with their families for the first time – BBC News
Meals have a way of bringing families together. As food is laid out, everyone gathers round the table, conversation flows and families bond.
But traditionally, eating together has not been encouraged in India. Men and children are fed first and only then can women sit down to eat.
But in millions of poor homes, this practice has had an unintended consequence – malnutrition among women.
Now, however, campaigners are urging women to eat with their families instead of after them. And, they say, the results have been very encouraging.
No-one knows when or where or how the practice started, but like every other symbol of patriarchy, it is deeply entrenched in people’s psyche.
As a child, in my home too, my mother, grandmother, aunts and cousin’s wives would cook and serve, but they would always be the last to eat.
In the pecking order, gods came first – once food was prepared, a small portion of all the dishes would be offered to them.
In my Brahmin home, even the resident cow was fed before humans – when my grandfather sat down to eat, he would set aside bits of food from every dish onto a small thick round piece of bread that was placed on a leaf. He would eat only after one of us had fed that to the cow.
This staggered eating sometimes caused minor friction at home – if men delayed mealtimes, it just meant that the women’s wait to eat got longer. It didn’t matter how hungry they were, they just had to wait.